Last night I watched news coverage of a burning house. And continued to watch the burning house. And I asked myself, how will CNN manage to tear themselves away from this all-consuming event? They wouldn’t go with a split-screen for the State of the Union would they? And then I watched the annual address and couldn’t recall the last time I’ve seen one half of a divided house looking quite so stubbornly grim. And the other side wasn’t exactly turning cartwheels. And then a game of basketball sections that felt entirely foreign to me, coming from a team I’ve watched for most of my life. There’s always silver linings and Dwight stepped up his game in a major way. And when it was over the Lakers had won but the season still feels like a lab experiment that has gone weirdly wrong.
A giant shadow cast its presence as a Lakers center found his basketball groove again. Kevin Ding from the OC Register considers the moment.
Janis Carr from the OC Register writes that even winning can’t silence critics, including Rick Fox.
Brian Kamenetzky writes on Sulia, about Kobe and his relationship with the large man who was watching Dwight from the sidelines.
Drew Garrison for Silver Screen and Roll recaps an utterly strange game for Kobe, and a much-needed win.
Arielle Moyal at Lakers Nation ponders the subject of Dwight Howard’s shoulder and the upcoming All-Star game.
It’s not about the Lakers but Jonathan Abrams at Grantland delivers a compelling story about Shaun Livingston, a guy who battled back from the worst injury you’re ever apt to see.
Also on the subject of rebuilt legs, Greg Bishop wrote this excellent piece for the NY Times last week, about former Duke and Bulls standout Jay Williams.
And finally, Will Ferrell played the part of a security cop in last night’s game. Courtesy Kelly Dwyer at Ball Don’t Lie.
I don’t think this team has an identity, apart from their unique individual personalities. This is how the media mostly examines them, and the fans and non-fans as well. It becomes a water cooler series about Kobe and Dwight and Mike and Steve and who said what to who and what about that crazy third quarter? And lost in the mixed-up mess is any sense of this team as a system or definable style.
Unique personalities were certainly present during the Phil Jackson years. He himself was print worthy and there were feuds and star wars and nutty supporting characters like the Machine. But the team still had an overriding presence – they were the Triangle offense. Even if they sometimes strayed from the system, they were still known by it. There was a concept in place and other teams recognized this and fans recognized it and the media recognized it and it became an easy label and it became something you could freelance from – there were the ups and downs and miscues and moments when Phil pondered the wood grain pattern under his high chair and refused to call a time out, but this also was a part of their overall identity and for the most part, it worked. Until it didn’t. And since then, the team has wandered. And no matter how many hirings and firings and big box purchases that the organization makes, the season still ebbs further from its epicenter with each passing game – win or lose. Even a coach who was once labeled by his own seven seconds or less creation, is now simply adrift.
They say that winning cures all and that it just takes some time. And that injuries are what they are. And that still doesn’t provide an identity, at least not one you want. Tomorrow night brings another chapter in the hallway series, with the Clippers going through their own struggles as off late, treading water at five-and-five for their last ten. And if anybody has a storyline for what comes next, just add it below the jump.